Monday, 15 August 2011

Israel gives green light to expansion of Ariel settlement with building of 277 new units

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has given the green light to build 277 new homes in the Ariel settlement of the occupied West Bank, his office said on Monday.

"Defense Minister Ehud Barak last week approved the marketing of 277 housing units in the Neuman district in Ariel," it said, referring to a sprawling settlement deep inside the northern West Bank.

The announcement came days after Israel's interior minister gave approval for 1,600 new units in East Jerusalem settlement Ramat Shlomo on Thursday, with notice that 2,700 more settlement homes would be signed off in coming days. The move sparked international condemnation. more

Despite 'opening' of the Rafah crossing resentment builds at Egypt's continued restrictions

London, (Pal Telegraph) - In late April, Egypt’s acting foreign minister Nabil el-Arabi promised to ease the closure of his country’s sole border crossing with the Gaza Strip, reversing years of policy set by the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak. But Palestinians in Gaza are still waiting for that promise to materialize.

The symbolism of the announcement was inescapable. Egypt’s collusion with Israel in the isolation of Gaza contributed to the misery of Palestinians and helped fuel resentment among the Egyptian public before the uprising that toppled Mubarak in February.

The opening of the Rafah crossing was to signal a new direction in Egyptian foreign policy, the beginning of a departure from decades of alignment with Israel and the United States.

Although widely reported as a sweeping pledge to “open the Rafah crossing,” el-Arabi’s pronouncement merely resulted in a set of administrative changes to the procedures at the crossing.

Specifically the changes allowed for visa-free travel for Palestinians with Israeli-approved ID cards, with the exception of men aged 18 to 40, according to Gisha, an Israeli organization advocating greater freedom of movement for Palestinians. Young Palestinian men, this rule presumes, are an inherent security threat. Goods remain prohibited from crossing, except for rare humanitarian shipments.

However, three months after el-Arabi’s pledge, frustration is simmering over ongoing confusion and backlog at the crossing.